How to Drain a Hot Water Heater When It Won’t Drain? [Quick Solution]

Shelby Kearns
By Shelby Kearns  • Reviewed by Ben  • Updated:   February 9, 2024
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If your water heater won’t drain, it is very likely to be plugged up with sediment.

If this is a water heater that is currently working and you are simply trying to do a flush, LEAVE IT ALONE!

If you open the drain when it hasn’t been used in a long time, you might not be able to get it closed again! Worse yet, if it is an old water heater, dislodging the sediment might actually cause a leak, and you’ll wind up having to replace the entire water heater.

On older units that haven’t been regularly flushed, it is best just to leave them be and plan for a replacement in the future when the heater eventually stops working.

However, if you are trying to replace a water heater that won’t drain, there are a couple of things you can do.

To start, make sure the hot water faucets are open, and the pressure relief valve has been flipped up.

  1. Try to push a wire up through the drain to unclog the sediment
  2. Back flush with a washing machine hose (double-ended) connected to a threaded faucet
  3. Use a pump

If the water heater is draining slowly, it might be easier to wait it out. It will drain as much as it can, but you will still likely have sediment in the bottom of the tank, making it heavy and difficult to transport. If you can get it outside, you can knock the valve off, and the rest of the contents will drain quickly. This is not advisable if the water heater is still in the house, however. You will absolutely flood the utility room.

Originally this answer was posted by us on Quora.

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